Gucci Mane has been home from prison for almost two months now and dived head first back into work. His new album is due out tomorrow, he’s released a slew of guest features, become a social media darling and oh yeah for the first time in 17 years he is sober.
Guwop recently sat down with The New York Times‘ Jon Caramanica to discuss his time behind bars and what made him decide it was time for a change. After admitting he was a drug addict for his entire adult life, Gucci details the process of making his choice to become clean, improve his health mentally and physically.
Tomorrow his upcoming album Everybody Looking (out July 22), which was recorded in just six days following Gucci’s release from jail. Read a few clips from the interview below.
On his drug addiction:
Before his latest sentence, Gucci, 36, estimated, he hadn’t been fully sober since he was a teenager — around 17 years: “I felt like I couldn’t make music sober, I couldn’t enjoy my money sober. Why would I wanna go to a club and couldn’t smoke or drink? I felt like sex wouldn’t be good sober. I associated everything with being high.
“In hindsight I see it for what it was: I was a drug addict,” he said. “I was naïve to the fact that I was numb.” He had been smoking weed and drinking alcohol since he was a teenager, and drinking lean (or syrup, the prescription-strength cough syrup concoction) since he was 21; sometimes he added ecstasy or prescription pills.
“I can’t say I felt happy my last six, seven years in the music business,” he said. “I was just numb. You told me that I was doing good or told me I was doing bad, you hated me or loved me, either which way I greeted with nonchalance. It was sincere nonchalance — like, I really didn’t care.”
On getting clean:
He attempted rehab once, but it didn’t take. Near the beginning of his most recent stint behind bars, at the high-security federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., he decided it was finally time for a change.
First came withdrawal. “Death,” he said. “It feel like death. Your body just craving lean bad. Stomach tore up, can’t think straight. Just mad at the world. Temper so short, so violent, so aggressive. So just rude and toxic.”
After that, focus. In prison, Gucci stuck largely to routine, concentrating on prayer, working out and reading, especially the Bible and self-help books by Tony Robbins and Deepak Chopra. He now flawlessly speaks the language of recovery and therapy. “I’m my own therapist,” he said. “I been changed from before I even got out. People seeing now the effect of how I started thinking from maybe early 2014.” He used the prison’s music service to keep current, and also for inspiration; Kodak Black’s “No Flocking” was a workout favorite (and the Florida rapper was one of the first artists Gucci collaborated with after his release).
On writing down his rhymes in jail:
When Gucci was at his output peak, in the late 2000s and early 2010s, he wrote nothing down, freestyling everything under the influence in the recording booth. In prison he reverted to pen and paper.
In the upstairs studio of his new home, one wall is covered in white and yellow legal-pad paper full of raps he wrote while in prison, then mailed to Ms. Ka’oir for safekeeping.
On his new album:
About half of the songs on “Everybody Looking” — which features Kanye West and Drake, both of whom reached out to Gucci after his release, a testament to his stealth influence — were written behind bars. “I made like a pact to myself: When I get out, no matter what happens, I must record these songs,” Gucci said. “It was so real when I wrote it.”
Those are the album’s tenser, stormier numbers, songs like “1st Day Out tha Feds” and “Got Robbed.” The other half of the album, which includes looser tracks like “Pick Up the Pieces (Outro),” was written in the first days of freedom. With the help of the producers Mike Will Made-It and Zaytoven, and the engineering work of Mr. Paine, “Everybody Looking” was entirely recorded in just six days. Within an hour of entering the house after his release, Gucci laid down the vocal for “1st Day Out tha Feds” to a skeletal beat. By the next morning, it was released to radio. It’s currently being spun by the two biggest Atlanta hip-hop stations several dozen times a week.